Sun tanning equals skin damage: New awareness campaign

It only takes a few bad sunburns or trips to the tanning bed to put someone at risk for melanoma. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and when left untreated, melanoma is the most dangerous and aggressive form. It accounts for more than 9,000 of the 12,000-plus skin cancer deaths each year. In observance of May's Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) is focusing on helping teens keep their skin safe this spring with a new infographic.

"Sun tanning equals skin damage," said Dr. David R. Byrd, director of surgery at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "To minimize the risk of skin cancer, we recommend people use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and limit the amount of time spent in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m."

Teens choosing to tan indoors under UV light are more likely to get melanoma. In fact, 76 percent of melanomas found in women between the ages of 18 and 29 are associated with tanning bed use. While getting a blistering sunburn as a teen can more than double an individual's chance of developing melanoma later on in life, research shows only 15 percent of males and 37 percent of females claim to use sunscreen most of the time or always.

SCCA is committed to preventing melanoma in teens by encouraging them to change their daily and summer-ready routines. The "Looks Really Can Kill You" infographic is an innovative, relatable way to educate teens on their skin cancer risks.

Anyone can develop skin cancer, but there are lifestyle choices one can make to reduce their risk. Teens choosing to opt out of the tanning bed, taking the extra time to put on sunscreen, and seeking the shade during the hottest hours of the day are making an investment in their health and ensuring their beauty is actually skin deep.

About Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is a cancer treatment center that unites doctors from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children's. Our goal, every day, is to turn cancer patients into cancer survivors. Our purpose is to lead the world in the prevention and treatment of cancer. SCCA has five clinical care sites: an outpatient clinic on the Hutchinson Center campus, a pediatric inpatient unit at Seattle Children's, an adult inpatient unit at UW Medical Center, a medical oncology clinic at Halvorson Cancer Care, and a radiation oncology clinic at UW Medicine / Northwest Hospital. Additionally, proton therapy services are provided at SCCA Proton Therapy, A Procure Center. For more information about SCCA, visit


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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